WASHINGTON – The Transportation Security Administration is expecting a record breaking number of flyers this upcoming Thanksgiving holiday travel period with more than 25 million passengers traveling through security screening checkpoints nationwide Nov. 16 through Nov. 26, an increase of 5 percent from 2017. TSA officials are prepared to process the volume of passengers at airport security checkpoints, deploying new technology, an additional 80 passenger screening canine teams and more than 1,200 TSA officers.
“As Thanksgiving and the holiday travel seasons arrive, ensuring the safety and security of the millions of passengers traveling daily remains TSA’s top priority,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “We marked several records over the spring and summer travel periods this year, screening more than 525 million passengers and crew. This upcoming season will be very busy as more passengers choose to fly, and TSA officers will be on duty over the holidays so travelers can enjoy theirs.”
The busiest travel days leading up to Thanksgiving will be the Friday and Wednesday before the holiday, with 2.6 million passengers and crew expected on each of those days. On Nov. 25, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, more than 2.7 million travelers are expected to be flying home. On a typical weekday, TSA screens about 2.1 million passengers.
This year travelers may encounter new technologies that improve both security and the traveler experience. More than a dozen of the nation’s largest airports have automated screening lanes, 16 have computed tomography X-ray scanners that enhance threat detection capabilities at checkpoints and Atlanta is using new biometrics technology to verify the identity of passengers.
Additionally, through the TSA Airport Operations Center and in coordination with airport and airline partners, TSA monitors and maintains security operations at checkpoints nationwide. The center tracks daily screening operations, rapidly addresses any issues that arise, and deploys personnel, canine teams and technology where needed.
The best way to ensure a quick trip through the security screening process is to arrive early and be prepared. Passenger preparedness can have a significant impact on wait times at security checkpoints nationwide. Travelers are encouraged to allow time to park their cars or return rental cars, check their bags with their airline, and get their boarding passes, all before heading to the security checkpoint. TSA recommends getting to the terminal at least one hour early for domestic travel and at least two hours for international travel.
Additionally, travelers should keep these top three tips in mind:
- Pack smart. Prepare for security when packing and ensure that there are no prohibited items in baggage. As always, passengers can bring pies, cakes and other baked goods through the checkpoints; however, liquids such as eggnog and maple syrup, and gels such as preserves and jellies, should go into checked bags. Liquids in carry-on must follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule. Download the MyTSA app or use the “What can I bring?” tool on tsa.gov. This allows you to type in an item to find out if you can bring it in your carry-on bag, checked bag, either or neither.
- Renew your TSA Pre✓® membership. Individuals who obtained TSA Pre✓® five years ago are now able to renew their TSA Pre✓® membership online. Individuals who do not have TSA Pre✓® should enroll now to get TSA Pre✓® benefits, available at more than 200 U.S. airports, in time for their holiday travel. Travelers enrolled in a trusted traveler program, like TSA Pre✓®, do not need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets. To find the trusted traveler program that best suits your travel needs, use the DHS trusted traveler comparison tool.
- Ask for passenger support. Travelers or families of passengers with disabilities and/or medical conditions may call the TSA Cares helpline toll free at 855-787-2227 at least 72 hours prior to flying with any questions about screening policies, procedures and to find out what to expect at the security checkpoint. TSA Cares also arranges assistance at the checkpoint.
As a reminder, public awareness is key for supporting TSA’s security efforts. Travelers are encouraged to report suspicious activities, and remember, If You See Something, Say Something™. Travelers can get assistance in real time by submitting their questions and comments to @AskTSA on Twitter or Facebook Messenger on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on weekends/holidays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET. Travelers can also reach the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673. Staff is available from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends/holidays; and an automated service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.